Mel Gibson Loved Most by … Russia

Mel Gibson | British Film Awards | Golden Globes

Mel Gibson Loved Most by … Russia

Mel Gibson must be singing “To Russia with Love.” In whatever way the box office is counted there, “Apocalypto” has now taken in $4.5 million in the cold country, where extreme violence has obviously fascinated filmgoers. The Russian box office makes up roughly half of the film’s international take of $9.6 million.

In this country, though, “Apocalypto” is over. It should top out around $50 million, which isn’t bad considering it wasn’t in English and had more spurting blood than “Goodfellas.”

On the other hand, it’s not good, either. The movie cost at least $50 million, which means that so far Gibson has lost about half of that since the other half went to theater owners. Disney was on the hook for another $25 million in promotion and distribution, which means that’s gone, too.

Gibson won’t be hurt too much personally. After all, he did tell that cop that he owned most of Malibu. Maybe he can sell some real estate.

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Still, the relative lack of ticket sales for "Apocalypto" should be a sign for those who plan to go into business with Gibson in the future. It wasn’t just the movie itself that kept people away. Too many people just don’t want to see a Mel Gibson movie now at all.

Even if he were to do an about-face, a comedy like “What Women Want,” the actor will now always be watched with audiences wondering what he really wants, and what he’s really thinking.

“Apocalypto” won’t help the bottom line for Mel’s production company, either. Icon Entertainment — which makes its money distributing American films abroad — is already responsible for the Elton John-David Furnish produced disaster, “It’s a Boy-Girl Thing,” which will go straight to video in this country.

John Turturro’s still unseen “Romance and Cigarettes,” with a staggering 32 credited producers and an all-star cast, remains hidden from the public to this day.

Brits Nominate Bond for Best Actor

The British Academy Awards, aka British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), really love their new James Bond. This morning they nominated Daniel Craig for their Best Actor Award.

Hey, if Sacha Baron Cohen is picking up nominations as "Borat," why not?

“Casino Royale” got nine nominations altogether, including Best British Film. Overall, though, Stephen Frears’ “The Queen,” received the most nominations, 10, including Best Film. The other entries in that category were "Babel," "The Departed," "Little Miss Sunshine" and "The Last King of Scotland." The latter shows that these people are way more on the ball than Americans, who so far haven’t really seen "Scotland" even though Forest Whitaker is so highly praised as Idi Amin.

“Dreamgirls” was almost completely shut out, except for Jennifer Hudson (Best Supporting Actress) and a music nod.

The big surprise of these last, important awards is that “Little Miss Sunshine” has been the sleeper film of all time. Made as an indie and sold at Sundance a year ago for a record amount of $12 million, this first-time feature by a married couple has picked up dozens of nominations from every group. Just this week it was nominated by the Directors’ and Writers’ Guilds.

The six BAFTAs are only the beginning. When the Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 23, expect to see it in Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), and possibly Supporting Actress (child star Abigail Breslin). “LMS” could turn out to be the spoiler that knocks out another film’s chances in several categories.

Today’s nominations are going to have more of an impact, too, on just general Oscar voting. This weekend’s Sunday tea party thrown by BAFTA/LA in Hollywood should be quite a draw.

Golden Globes: An Awards Oddity

No one in the general public knows who gives out the Golden Globes this Monday. The 80 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press are unknown to the world at large, and nearly secret to “real” journalists working around the world.

In that large group, the bylines of perhaps half can be located on the Internet. Many haven’t written anything in years. Several are photographers. One of them is a Russian filmmaker who no one knows and has a pseudonym.

A few, however, actually qualify as members of the press, even if they aren’t really foreign.

Emanuel Levy, for example, with his handlebar mustache and dashing presence, is considered the realest thing going by the Globes. He’s published several books on film, and has one coming out this June on the “new” documentary filmmakers. He’s American, but he’s lived in foreign countries.

Scott Orlin, according to the group’s Web site, writes for Germany. He’s American, too, and his byline appears all over the Internet, not necessarily reporting in German periodicals, but he’s often published.

Mike Goodridge, who’s British, is the U.S. editor of Screen International. Jenny Cooney Carillo, an ex-pat Australian, also has numerous credits that can be Googled. They are good if rare examples of the HFPA members with credits.

There are plenty of members though who have no searchable credits, though, except for being mentioned in stories about the group.

The HFPA is better known among stars and publicists for their “press conferences,” or junkets. They are famous for having pictures taken with movie stars at the end of such sessions.

That’s why the December 2005 suicide of ex-member Nick Douglas never made sense. He was banished from the group after being accused of selling a picture to a tabloid. Hypocritical? Just slightly. German member Elmar Biebel’s Web site shows off all the pictures he’s taken with celebs.

So most of the HFPA are engimas, or amateurs, or at best part-time freelancers with interesting accents. It might be useful and fun if, right at the beginning of the show, they flashed a picture of each member with his or her credential. It would be like a congressional roll call. They would each be required to show their clips from the last year.

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter. For years, the Golden Globes were kind of a joke show distributed in syndication. Then NBC realized it could leverage them into a pre-Oscars, and the movie studios concurred that this was a good thing. The Globes quickly became to film what the American Music Awards are to the record business: a marketing tool.

Every year, then, NBC pays the HFPA almost $6 million to license the Golden Globes name. The HFPA, wisely, formed a charitable foundation, and gives away around $1.2 million to various film organizations. The rest, they keep.

It’s not a bad deal. If a studio won’t or can’t pay to bring them to a press junket or on-set PR op, the HFPA has enough money to send their people into battle. Their members spend a lot of the year globetrotting to film festivals and movie premieres, mostly to review the same films critics from all the major cities see basically for free and with little fanfare.

The worth of the Globes, however, is not that much as far as being a bellwether of anything. This cranky little group, for example, largely snubbed “Dreamgirls” this year and didn’t bestow their nominations on director-writer Bill Condon. The Directors Guild, on the other hand, did nominate him for their award and he will likely be given the same for the Oscars.

As well, the HFPA gave Clint Eastwood not one but two nominations for Best Director for each of his films, "Flags of our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima." The DGA, however, excluded him completely.

You get the picture. They love stars. So don’t be surprised if Brad Pitt or Ben Affleck beats Oscar-certain Eddie Murphy for Best Supporting Actor.

And that brings up another point. Three of the four likely Oscar winners in acting this year are African-American: Whitaker for Best Actor in "The Last King of Scotland," and Hudson and Murphy in supporting roles for “Dreamgirls" (add to that group Will Smith, who was nominated for “The Pursuit of Happyness.”)

It will be interesting to see if the HFPA comes up with any similar combination. If they don’t, there will be a lot of questions and, knowing this group, few answers.